Smith (Desert God, 2014, etc.) continues the saga of Lord Taita, loyal consigliere to Pharaoh Tamose.
Sadly, as Taita drives the last of the invading Hyksos from Egypt, Tamose dies. That’s troublesome for Taita because Tamose’s eldest son and heir is a cowardly, hedonistic pervert who calls himself Utteric Turo the Great. Utteric fears Taita. Utteric is also wary of his own brother, Rameses, next in line for the throne. Utteric betrays them both, but after imprisonment, derring-do, and escape, Taita and Rameses sail to Greece’s Bay of Githion, where they’re assured support from King Hurotas. Hurotas was once Tamose’s Capt. Zaras, an Egyptian officer, later persona non grata because he eloped with Tamose’s sister, Princess Tehuti, after being assigned to escort her to marry Minos of Crete. Tehuti and Hurotas’ beautiful daughter, Princess Serrena of Sparta, is like Taita—intelligent, possessor of warrior skills, master of a mythical blue sword with a ruby pommel—and because she was sired by Apollo, divine. Hurotas and Taita contrive alliances among multiple kings to invade Egypt and overthrow Utteric. These Egyptians seemed fascinated with Greek gods, but the novel skids into standard action territory—all swords, chariots, and magic with palace intrigue and set-piece battles. There’s a Serrena-Rameses magnetic attraction but little other human drama. Smith’s Taita continues to think much of himself—“my abundant charms soothed...my exquisite...protocol prevailed”—but constant self-appreciation creates an unsympathetic hero. The dialogue doesn’t distract, and characters are generally all good or all bad. The bad die gruesomely while the pace, like Taita’s self-regard, never slackens.
A swords-and-sandals action-adventure no worse or better than the first five in Smith’s Egyptian series.